Obamacare enrollment tops 2 million with less than one month to go before big HealthCare.gov deadline

An insurance agent from Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, speaks with a customer as she shops for insurance under the Affordable Care Act at a store setup in the Mall of Americas on November 1, 2017 in Miami, Florida.

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An insurance agent from Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, speaks with a customer as she shops for insurance under the Affordable Care Act at a store setup in the Mall of Americas on November 1, 2017 in Miami, Florida.

Enrollment on the federal Obamacare marketplace hit nearly 2.3 million people in the first three weeks of the sign-up season for individual health plans, officials said Wednesday.

That tally beats by almost 900,000 people — or 42 percent — the number of customers who signed up during the first four weeks of enrollment in 2016 on the marketplace, HealthCare.gov.

But it remains to be seen whether the faster pace of enrollments seen so far on HealthCare.gov will be enough to beat the final sign-up tally for last season.

This sign-up season on that marketplace, which serves people in 39 states, ends Dec. 15 — half of the enrollment window for last season. However, the deadline for sign-ups is later in most of the remaining states, which operate their own Obamacare exchanges.

In addition to worrying about the shorter enrollment period, Obamacare advocates fear that negative comments about the Affordable Care Act program by the Trump administration will tamp down sign ups this season.

Almost 800,000 people selected an Obamacare plan that takes effect Jan. 1 on HealthCare.gov, during the week running from Nov. 12 through last Saturday, officials said.

That was a drop off of more than 77,000 people from the pace of the prior week.

Most of the customers have signed up for coverage on HealthCare.gov so far — 1.71 million of them — are returning customers. The remaining 566,042 people are new customers.

Last week, 578,506 customers renewed coverage, and 220,323 new customers selected plans.

The Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to have some form of health coverage during the year or pay a tax penalty.

HealthCare.gov and the state-run exchanges were created to sell coverage to people who do not have insurance through a job, Medicare, Medicaid or other sources.

Most potential customers of the Obamacare marketplace have low or moderate incomes, which qualify them for subsidies that reduce their monthly costs of coverage.

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